By Lianne Appleby
At a conference last month, I ran into a peer who I would dub an “agvocist” – someone very passionate about promoting agriculture to the point that it pours over into her personal Facebook posts. This woman is, for lack of a more appropriate word, effervescent.
But, when I asked her what she thought of two on-farm animal welfare breaches that made the mainstream news last fall, her shoulders sagged slightly and a small sigh escaped from her lips. I was taken aback.
“Sorry,” she said as she collected herself. “It’s just that there’s so much good being done out there that doesn’t make the news but agriculture is a slave to its exceptions.” We carried on chatting for a little while and by the end of the conversation, she was back to her usual bubbly self, but that one brief moment of resignation startled me – perhaps because it was so out-of-character.
I think any farmer who strives to do what’s right grimaces when an undercover video surfaces. We cannot deny that Code of Practice violations will occur from time to time on Canadian farms – and yes, poultry operations too. What we can do, is acknowledge and correct those breaches. We can train personnel, instil respect for the animals in our care, reprimand and penalize as necessary and learn lessons from what happened.
But let us not forget that there’s another side to the coin. As well as recognizing when things have gone wrong, it’s equally important to acknowledge things done right, and applaud the many shining examples we own in this industry of sustainable farming. We congratulate not because they are exceptions, but because they are – happily – instances of the trending norm. As an industry, it’s essential to remind ourselves of that.
So, on that note, in this issue we are delighted to tip our cap to Farmcrest Foods Ltd. (Farmcrest) of Salmon Arm, B.C., recipients of the 2016 Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award. As you read on, you’ll discover how Farmcrest is dedicated to continual learning and improvement, takes responsibility as stewards of a sensitive land area and works to ensure that employees are treated like family. The operation is a true model of sustainability in all of its forms.
Owners Richard Bell and Alan Bird will receive $2,000, and a farm gate sign as well as the award itself. We congratulate them on their achievement.
In closing, I would also like to take the time to first acknowledge all of the applicants for the award. Your dedication and commitment to your own longevity and that of the industry is commendable.
I would be remiss as well, if I didn’t acknowledge our Canadian Poultry Sustainability Award judges this year – former Canadian Poultry editor, Kristy Nudds; Valerie Carney, poultry research scientist and technology transfer coordinator with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry; and Al Dam, provincial poultry specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The quality of the applicants was exceptional and selecting our winner was no enviable task. Your thorough review process and willingness to give time to the selection of our winner is appreciated.
Recognition, also, to would-be sponsors of the cancelled Canadian Poultry Sustainability Symposium: Big Dutchman, Clark Ag Systems Ltd., Chicken Farmers of Canada, Cobb-Vantress, Egg Farmers of Canada, Farm Credit Canada and Walbern Agri Ltd. Thank you for your support.